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Sheep Mountain 3567 & 3397 - Salt River, AZ

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39 8 1
Guide 8 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,568 feet
Elevation Gain 1,100 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,500 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 25.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
2  2015-01-17
Sheep Mountain 3567 - Salt River
50  2014-12-19
Sheep Mountain 3567 Recon
8  2011-12-16 BobP
3  2011-12-16 uphill_junkie
6  2011-12-16 joebartels
10  2011-12-02 BobP
12  2011-12-02 joebartels
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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Author Full Detail Guide
Overview: Several approaches are available. Simple high clearance would be from Cottonwood Camp. 2.77mi 4x4 up from 401A. Shortest would probably be by watercraft.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Sheep Mountain 3567 & 3397 - Salt River
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    Sheep Mountain 3567 - Salt River
    Closer to the summit than a month ago, but with another miss I'm convinced I need to drop this one from my to-do list even though it remains undone.

    By now, with 2 previous recons I had the route down almost to memory (such as it is) and felt it was simply a matter of getting it done. While the first 49% went great and I was well ahead of schedule, I guess all good things must come to an end. One moment I was on what I felt was stable ground, the next, I wasn't... but with only a small area of ground moving before it stopped, just as I lifted up my hiking poles to dig in to make sure I had enough traction to resume, a huge section of ground gave way. And since I was leaning forward about to dig the poles in hard, I fell, and fell hard.
    While it was a good thing I didn't slide very far down after hitting the ground, the damage was already done... the right wrist, thigh & ankle along with the chest took the brunt of the hit. And for once I was thankful I had my new camera squirreled away in my pack than on my chest, which I usually do. I may have ruined the camera while putting a dent in my breastplate.

    Time to take stock of the situation... The wrist feels like it was on fire, as though well-sprained if not broken, my right hand and thigh had a batch of cholla spines hammered in thoroughly yet broken off (now a day later there's a bunch of infected red spots bearing witness), putting weight on my right ankle was quite painful, which with the gimp wrist meant I could use the right pole as a crutch.
    I sat for a full 5 minutes contemplating the extent of my injuries before deciding what to do next... finish the last few hundred vertical feet, or turn around AGAIN? Being so close I wanted to come-hell-or-high-water suck it up and hit the summit, but even now I'm whipped enough it'll be a chore even now.

    Thinking back to last June when I had a big crash-and-burn early on during my El Recortado East & West hike, yet I persevered and got the job done... so let's give it a go. But after taking almost 10 minutes to climb just under a hundred feet, I knew reaching the summit today just wasn't gonna happen. And in fact, I wondered how I'd make it the 3.5 miles back to the car.

    Well I'll be darned if I hadn't jinxed myself by packing Ibuprofen this trip, something I've never done before. Fortuitous or not, I downed it, hoping it may provide some respite from the pain while I did all I could mentally to ignore the worst of the pain enough to hobble along.

    And now began the long trek back. Funny how I thought I had the best routes mapped out from previous recons and this trip out to Sheep, but now in need of the shortest, easiest route back I managed to find just that. Still, I stopped many times to catch my breath, I believe more due to the unrelenting pain than the actual physical effort.

    But after a few stops I realized it was harder to get going each time, so for the last mile or so (including two ascents and one steep descent) I just took on the mantra of picking a spot 50 feet ahead, telling myself I could make it that far, and did that 50' one-step-at-a-time.

    Whew! Back to the Jeep and I just want to get out of here! But wait, one more problem to raise it's ugly head... I could not believe that after having the whole front axle beefed up with trusses and boxing-in the knuckles, the right upper suspension mount broke off the truss. Of course it was the new weak-spot... although it wasn't supposed to be that weak. (I've since found out the super heavy-duty mount was on back-order so for the time being something similar to factory original was used. I can't wait for the back-order so Monday we'll just make one.)
    So it was a slower than-normal drive back home.
    Weird, but now today, the only pain I have (other than the normal on-going stuff) is from the cholla spines under the skin. And of course, on the right hand they just happen to be where they are the most aggravating, the gripping surfaces of the thumb and index finger.
    No photos or videos this trip... due to the circumstances I was in no mood for any.
    [Edit] Due to popular demand (at least one request anyway) I added a photoset of 2 photos.
    Sheep Mountain 3567 & 3397 - Salt River
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    Sheep Mountain 3567 Recon
    It was over 18 months ago when I did my first Sheep Mountain (3567) recon hike so it was high time I got with the program. On the previous recon I was stopped by sheer cliffs and by time I figured out another route I had run out of time. With the knowledge gained from that hike I planned about the most direct route possible from about 3 miles out on Forest Road 401A.

    Pretty much everything went according to plan except...
    1. After a hike-less 7 days I felt lethargic with the aches & pains from inactivity
    2. As a result of #1 I got a late start
    3. FR 401A was in tough shape so the drive was longer than expected

    So... by now I figured reaching the summit was out so I'd use this as a more thorough recon. If I managed to reach the summit, great! If not, there's always next time.

    Also, by time I had gone 100 yards I knew it was not going to be an easy hike... my hiking poles were still at home and with all the ups & downs (the downs being the real knee killers) I already debated on turning around and doing an easier hike. But no... I wasn't going to let that rough drive go to waste, so let's make the best of it.

    Thankfully by the second down-climb I had found an old Saguaro rib just about the right length to use as my hiking pole. Although it slipped a few times where my regular pole would not have, it worked out better than expected even though it was almost 3" shorter by the end of the hike.

    So far my planned route was working to perfection... until beginning the actual climb of Sheep Mountain from the west. Unfortunately I had based my ascent route on Joe B's first Sheep Mountain hike... which meant when I reached a point almost directly below the summit, the track continued some distance farther southeast before turning back toward the summit. Based on the extra distance left to go and feeling just a bit low on energy, I decided to turn back and use the time for some random exploration along the lower western slope.

    Only when I got far enough down was I able to see a much shorter route to the summit. If I'd known that earlier I'm sure I would have made the effort to reach the summit, but now well down the slope I was not about to try it today. But I took notes for the next (and hopefully final) attempt at Sheep.

    Of course only after I get home do I dig around and notice Joe's Official Route takes the exact route I now felt would be best. If only I'd used that route instead of Joe's first. Oh well, live and learn.
    But at least the hike got me out of the lethargic state and got me fired up for hopefully seven days straight of hiking before the next hike-less seven days.

    Whoops! Almost forgot...
    On the return leg just as I was traversing the lower western slope of Sheep Mountain I thought I found a new replacement for my Saguaro rib/hiking pole, only to realize it was a Gopher Snake sunning itself. Being in the mid 50's at the time it was a bit of a surprise. I took just enough time for a photo and a one-minute video and continued on. And that would be the only excitement of the day.

    Two videos:
    1. Sheep Mountain western slope panorama video
    2. Gopher Snake video
    Sheep Mountain 3567 & 3397 - Salt River
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    Bob told me I needed to expand my horizons and learn new traits from experienced individuals. I had no idea what he was talking about but said let's do it. Got pretty lucky and finally got to meet the legend Mazatzal Kokopelli!

    We headed back to Sheep Mtn just two weeks after round one. This time via Cottonwood Creek then up Cane Spring Canyon(CSC) passing the Hidden Water oasis.

    8:13am - Richard stopped when the road got smooth due to lame advice and off we went
    8:51am - after 1.66mi and dropping 150ft we turned into CSC
    8:58am - we were greeted by the magical mid Dec Autumn Foliage of the Hidden Water oasis
    9:10am - the dreaded duck, twist and scratch bushwhack was over, it wasn't too bad either
    9:12am - Bob added Tina Turner to his "list" of neighbors and said he bagged groceries for Ike once. Another nod and smile moment...
    10:20am - 3.02mi we headed out of CSC and up to a ridge that would deliver us to Sheep Mtn. Amy said it was steep. I slipped down about ten feet mid way up to put the sausage grinder effect onto my right shin, declaring this as an official "fun" hike. Sometime I plan in haste drawing routes that look quick. Admittingly, it was a snowman nail bitter.
    10:36am - After a 520ft (almost half a Squaw) ascent in 0.16mi we arrived at a saddle. We thought it was windy in the canyon. On the saddle Gale forced us to believe it was a hurricane.
    10:52am - After a breather we were on our way again. You know how Bob always waits for the team to regroup before moving on... Bob who?
    12:01pm - after a 900ft brute force climb we centered out on Sheep Mtn. Amy and I took a catclaw rock scramble straight up. This was not as enjoyable as my route two weeks ago but it panned out.
    12:39pm - we headed over to 3567 to check Richard and Amy into the official peak log
    12:48pm - after logging in we decided to hit up 3397 and headed over. Richard started down to the sandstone ledges to meet us up on the return
    1:12pm - 3397 ended up being among the easiest stroll out of CSC. The views down into the Salt River are stunning. It was so windy though it was difficult to enjoy. The views atop Skeleton Cave are better too.
    2:02pm - I picked a horrible route back. It really slowed Amy and me down but we got in some good girl talk as Juliachaos calls it, wait a minute...
    2:40pm - somehow we didn't take the short cut back and proceeded to head down to CSC in nearly the same steep spot
    3:00pm - back on solid ground. The wind finally started to die off and the hike out was Chamber of Commerce
    4:30pm - back at Hidden Water I took the man route while everyone else opted for the girl scout route. I should'a known I'm more of a girl scout and kinna paid the price dearly too. Mid way through I went to leap off a four foot drop. It was all good in theory. However a vine trapped my feet so there was no lifting off the launch pad. Instead I face planted like the wile e coyote. Aside from full body trauma I felt pretty lucky to be in one piece and not visually bleeding anywhere. It did zap the energy out of me a little.
    5:32pm - the adventure came to a close

    Traits gleaned: Richard taught me to smoke or you never get breaks with Bob. Kat tried to teach me this last year but I didn't catch on. Amy taught me to consume alcohol in large quantities fast after hikes with Bob to blur (think she meant ease, but it was difficult to understand with her slur) pain.

    Thanks everyone, I had a great time!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Cottonwood Camp Trailhead
    From Scottsdale follow Shea Blvd East to its terminus at SR87. Turn Left onto SR87. Follow SR87(this is the Beeline) to the Four Peaks Turnoff which is FR143. FR143 is well marked. Follow FR143 to FR 401. Hang a right onto FR401 and follow past Cottonwood Camp. Park anywhere, behind the corral is more concealed.

    Several of the hikes posted from this trailhead go south. You can continue 0.5 miles south to where FR401 ascends out of Cottonwood Creek up the side of a mountain. It's absolute 4WD beyond. You will know as it turns from sand to cobblestone sized rocks. Getting here is only doable in high clearance, dry conditions and it's slightly risky depending on current conditions.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 46.4 mi - about 1 hour 20 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 144 mi - about 2 hours 47 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 173 mi - about 3 hours 21 mins
    page created by joebartels on Dec 02 2011 8:23 pm
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